Mission Statements: More Important Than You Thought

If an organization lacks a mission statement, it is worthwhile to at least try to draft one. Even if it does not yield an acceptable final draft, the exercise will be rewarding for the hard work which must go into figuring out the company's direction and putative purpose.

Mission statements can help companies determine their proper market niche, suggest new fields for the company to conquer, and even serve as a constraint, indicating, perhaps only implicitly, enterprises in which they should refrain from participating. Without the mission statement, getting sidetracked gets easier. Mission statements can further the cause of sound planning in other ways, too. The act of devising a statement forces management to take a hard look at its external threats and opportunities and at its internal competencies. If this part of the planning process had been neglected, drafting a mission statement will perhaps focus attention on such potential weak areas.

For startup companies and businesses in transition, a mission statement is critical. A mission statement is a charter that defines the basic business in which the enterprise will engage, the types of products it will make or the services it will provide, the markets it will serve, and perhaps how the company will conduct its affairs -- in other words, its purpose. Some managers may tend to regard its preparation as an academic exercise in verbal hairsplitting that offers little guidance in making hard decisions. Indeed, some mission statements are so broad and vague as to recall the prophecies of ancient oracles; others are mere public-relations floss. But if done well, a mission statement can establish a firm foundation for guiding a startup company on the best course or an older business in transition in setting its growth strategy.

Copyright AE Schwartz & Associates All rights reserved. For additional presentation materials and resources: ReadySetPresent and for a Free listing as a Trainer, Consultant, Speaker, Vendor/Organization: TrainingConsortium

CEO, A.E. Schwartz & Associates, Boston, MA., a comprehensive organization which offers over 40 skills based management training programs. Mr. Schwartz conducts over 150 programs annually for clients in industry, research, technology, government, Fortune 100/500 companies, and nonprofit organizations worldwide. He is often found at conferences as a key note presenter and/or facilitator. His style is fast-paced, participatory, practical, and humorous. He has authored over 65 books and products, and taught/lectured at over a dozen colleges and universities throughout the United States.

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